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Swastikas Drawn on Family's Car at Juneteenth Festival

The family had to ride home from the festival celebrating freedom of black slaves with the symbols of the Holocaust on their car.

Rich Pellegrino, an outspoken activist for immigrants' rights and an Austell resident, and his family saw something drawn on their car as they left the annual Juneteenth festival in Marietta on Saturday.

Pellegrino, founder of the Cobb Immigrant Alliance, knew immediately what the swastikas were and what they meant. However, his wife and 11-year-old granddaughter did not.

The swastikas were the symbols of the German Nazi Party, which murdered 6 million Jews and 6 million other people from other targeted groups. The swastikas have since become a core symbol of the Neo-Nazi and other white supremacist groups.

Juneteenth is a day celebrated by Americans on June 19 to commemorate the day the black slaves in Texas learned of their emancipation in 1865, three years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

"It is what it is," Pellegrino told South Cobb Patch.

Pellegrino tells others who are fighting for the rights of immigrants, those who are here legally and illegally, to "be prepared."

"We need unity more than ever, not only to win the next battle, but for our own protection and solidarity."

Pellegrino has filed a police report, and police are sending extra neighborhood patrols through his area for his family's safety.

He is not sure if he was targeted for being an outspoken advocate for immigrants' rights, especially after being quoted in two recent Marietta Daily Journal articles, regarding President Barack Obama's recent deportation policy change.

The swastikas could have been painted on his car because of all the bumper stickers he has, Pellegrino explained.

On his car, he has a faded 2008 Obama magnet. There's a picture of a Native American with the phrase, "Where's your papers?" In Spanish, the phrase, "We're here to stay. We're not going anywhere." is sprawled across one of the stickers. Another one asks, "Who would Jesus deport?" Still another has hands of different races with the words, "Help America bridge the racial divide."

Lastly, he has a bumper sticker with "bahai.org" on the bumper. The website is for his own religion, Baha'i.

Since the swastikas were painted on his car, Pellegrino has not removed them.

He and his family went out for Father's Day with the symbols painted on the car. They went to play tennis Monday night with them on the car.

"To me, I don't know if I'll take them off right away," Pellegrino said.

Editor's Note: Pellegrino now says the swastikas could have been drawn on his family's car while it was in his driveway on Sunday. He also said his wife did know what the symbols meant when she saw them.

Just A Grunt June 20, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Taken with a grain of salt. The symbols are drawn incorrectly and in most of the previous cases I am familiar with involving the drawing of a swastika on something when they are drawn incorrectly it has resulted in a case of some not so honest truth telling. That is generally one of the biggest clues to investigators that things aren't what they seem. Ever hear anything more about the ones drawn on Rep Scott's office?
Pam J June 20, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Swastikas? Come on people, that's getting a little old. It's fine to disagree with someone or have different ideals, but you are really stepping over the line when you use vandalism to get your point across. Rich, just tell your kids to some research on swastikas and they will see that, outside the Nazi use, it really was supposed to be a good symbol. Of course, the pinheads who did this probably didn't do any research.
Ronald Doc Myers June 20, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Thanks for the Juneteenth article. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) has introduced legislation to make Juneteenth Independence Day a National Day of Observance, like Flag Day and Patriot Day. "DOC" Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D. Founder & Chairman National Juneteenth Holiday Campaign National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF) National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council (NJCLC) National Association of Juneteenth Jazz Presenters (NAJJP) www.NationalJuneteenth.com
Larry King June 20, 2012 at 04:44 PM
It may be that the atmosphere of intolerance created by persons associated with D.A. King possibly conributed to some mis guided person causing this damage. While some may brush incidents like this aside as "pranks", history and current experience prove that pranks can lead to crime against humanity.
Claudette Clarke June 21, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Thank you for saying this. Pranks and jokes are just the seeds that can grow into intolerance and prejudice where people get physically harmed. Especially if these are children then there is a chance that they can be taught the severity of the joke.
Richard "the Equalizer" Pellegrino June 22, 2012 at 06:53 AM
Just a few minor corrections and a comment...we noticed the symbols on Sunday evening and thought they could have been applied either in our driveway (as we have had these kinds of personal attacks at home before) or at the Juneteenth festival the day before. And my wife did know what they meant (don't get me in trouble Kiri :-) but not my children. And it is true that they are drawn a bit incorrectly (and ironically more like the middle eastern peace-sign version) however to suggest that these and the ones at David Scott's office are somehow made up or self applied leads me to believe that "Just a Grunt" may be behind these (just half-joking). While I feel sorry for whomever does these types of things they are usually incited to fear and hate by others so I hold accountable those elected officials and other "leaders" (like the Sheriff, legislators like Chip Rogers and Ramsey, Commissioners, our Governor and the Governor of AZ, etc) who, for their own political gain, target, spew hate and dehumanizing misinformation about a whole population of good people.
Kiri Walton (Editor) June 22, 2012 at 10:56 AM
OK, I'll add a note. The email you sent says, "someone has retaliated and attacked one of our members by painting swastikas on his car parked at the Juneteenth festival" and you told me by phone that this someone was you.
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Kiri Walton (Editor) June 22, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Thanks! This is not a blog. It's a news site, but we do have locals who blog on the site, just like the New York Times or AJC has bloggers. If you're interested in blogging, please email me at kiri.walton@patch.com. Thanks!
Pam J June 26, 2012 at 04:01 AM
Everybody is accountable for their own actions. To say that you hold public figures accountable for the things that are happening to you is not really right. The person who did that to your car is just some idiot who gets a kick out of doing stupid things. We all have our own minds and we should not blame anybody else for what we do.
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